by Carmen LaBerge and Scott Lamb
Want to hear an inspiring story of Christian courage and valor in the face of torture, deprivation and war? You will find such a story in the life and death of Father Emil J. Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest and Army Chaplain during the Korean War.
A native of Kansas, Rev. Kapaun died while interred in a North Korean prisoner of war camp, exiled to die alone in the cold and hunger. Throughout the war and then in the prison camp, Kapaun showed grace to his captors and produced hope within the hearts of his fellow U.S. comrades. Last week at the White House, President Obama presented a posthumous Medal of Honor to the family of Rev. Kapaun, in recognition of the heroism and valor he displayed in life and death.
Take a few minutes today and either read (presented here by The Wichita Eagle) or watch (presented by President Obama in the YouTube video below) and learn about Rev. Kapaun.
Here is an excerpt from the New York Times’ article about the White House presentation of the Medal of Honor:
“This is an amazing story,” Mr. Obama said. “Father Kapaun has been called a shepherd in combat boots. His fellow soldiers who felt his grace and his mercy called him a saint, a blessing from God. Today, we bestow another title on him — recipient of our nation’s highest military decoration.”
Guards tortured him for his shows of faith, but on Easter, Father Kapaun offered Mass in church ruins at the camp as guards looked on.
One of the veterans told him, the president said, that the chaplain “kept a lot of us alive.”
The priest had a blood clot, dysentery and then pneumonia, and in May 1951, guards sent him into isolation, without food or water, to die. As Mr. Obama recounted, based on testimony from Father Kapaun’s comrades, the priest looked at the guards and said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”